Environmentalists Call for Ban on Fracking in Ohio After Earthquakes

Photo: Environmental groups are calling for a ban on fracking in Ohio after a series of small earthquakes erupted near an active fracking site last week.

By Mike Ludwig
Beaver County Blue via Truthout

March 18, 2014 – Ohio regulators ordered the Texas-based firm Hilcorp Energy to shut down its fracking operations in rural northeastern Ohio after five temblors ranging from 2.1 to 3.0 in magnitude were recorded March 10 and March 11 in the area. The US Geological Survey reported that the epicenter of the first and largest quake was directly below a landfill where Hilcorp was fracking. Local residents felt the quakes but did not report any serious damage.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which regulates oil and gas production in the state, said initial data indicated that the earthquakes were not related to drilling wastewater injection wells, which have been linked to small earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma and other states. If investigators link the quakes to Hilcorp’s production operations, it would be the first time that the fracking process has directly caused documented earthquakes in Ohio, if not the entire United States.

Fracking involves forcing millions of gallons of water and chemicals into underground wells to break up rock and release oil and natural gas. Wastewater that returns to the surface during the operation often is disposed of in underground injection wells. Ohio has become a popular destination for the waste, and more than 180 injection wells store waste across the state.

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